Albert Ellis’ 12 Irrational Beliefs

A common thread in coaching, counselling, and other personal development products and services is the direction to overcome self limiting beliefs. Therefore we must identify our irrational beliefs. A limiting beliefs list like the one in this post can help you to identify some of the beliefs that might be holding you back from reaching your full potential.

So, what are beliefs?

Our beliefs are a type of mental conditioning and shortcut system that helps our brains conserve energy. Some beliefs are resourceful and beneficial, but some others are not. Click here to read about 5 common limiting beliefs and how to overcome them.

What is an irrational belief?

  • It prevents you from reaching your goals
  • It is illogical
  • It leads to self-defeating behavior
  • It leads to unhealthy emotions

Albert Ellis Who?

Dr. Albert Ellis was a practitioner of REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy.) During his time as a therapist, documented 12 irrational beliefs that many people have.

Albert Ellis’ 12 Irrational Beliefs

  1. The belief that it is a dire necessity for adults to be loved by significant others for almost everything they do–

Rather than concentrating on their own self-respect, winning approval for practical purposes, and loving rather than being loved.

  1. The belief that certain acts are awful or wicked, and that people who perform such acts should be severely damned–

Rather than the belief that certain acts are self-defeating or antisocial, and that people who perform such acts are behaving stupidly, ignorantly, or neurotically, and would be better helped to change. People’s bad behaviors do not make them bad individuals.

  1. The belief that it is horrible when things are not the way we like them to be–

Rather than the belief that it is too bad, that we would better try to change or manage bad conditions so that they become better, and, if that is not possible, we had better temporarily and gracefully accept their existence.

  1. The belief that human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events–

Rather than the belief that our problems, stress and neurosis are largely caused by the perception we have of unfortunate conditions.

  1. The belief that if something is, or may be, dangerous or fearsome, we should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it–

Rather than the belief that one would better openly face it and render it non-dangerous and, when that is not possible, accept the inevitable.

  1. The belief that it is easier to avoid than to face life difficulties and self-responsibilities —

Rather than the belief that the so-called “easy way” is usually much harder in the long run.

  1. The belief that we absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than ourselves on which to rely —

Rather than the belief that it is better to accept the risks thinking and acting independently.

  1. The belief that we should be thoroughly competent, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects —

Rather than the belief that we are better to do rather than always need to do well; the belief that we are imperfect creatures, who have general human limitations and specific fallibilities, and we need to gently accept that, and ourselves.

  1. The belief that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it —

Rather than the belief that we can learn from our past experiences without being overly-attached to, or prejudiced by, them.

  1. The belief that we must have certain and perfect control over things —

Rather than the belief that the world is full of improbability and chance, and that we can still enjoy life despite this.

  1. The belief that human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction —

Rather than the belief that we tend to be happiest when we are vitally absorbed in creative pursuits, or when we are devoting ourselves to people or projects outside ourselves.

  1. The belief that we have virtually no control over our emotions and that we cannot help feeling disturbed about things —

Rather than the belief that we have real control over our destructive emotions if we choose to work at changing the way we think about, an focus on, our experiences.

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